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    Turkey steps in to soothe Azerbaijani concerns on Armenia thaw

    Hurriyet Daily News
    24.04.2009 - 10:27 | Son Güncelleme:

    ISTANBUL - Turkish President Abdullah Gul and Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan have stepped in to soothe Azerbaijan's concerns regarding the protocol agreed on by Turkey and Armenia. (UPDATED)

    Gul called Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev late on Thursday and said there was no misunderstanding between the two historic allies, while Erdogan signaled he might visit Baku.

     

    Turkey and Armenia under Switzerland's mediation have agreed on a comprehensive framework for the normalization of ties between the two neighboring countries that have not had diplomatic relations for more than a decade.

     

    Diplomatic and political sources told Reuters the road map sets a timeframe for the gradual establishment of diplomatic ties, opening of the Turkish-Armenia border and the work of a "commission on the historical dimension" to tackle Armenian claims of "genocide".

     

    Azerbaijan has expressed its concerns that any agreement between Turkey and Armenia should include withdrawing troops from a disputed region under the Armenian occupation.

     

    Gul said Turkey and Azerbaijan have been in constant contact over the issue. "There is no misunderstanding in our relations. Everything that takes place is for Turkey and Azerbaijan. If the initiatives succeed, they will benefit Turkey, Azerbaijan, Armenia and the whole Caucasus region," he told reporters late Thursday, news agencies reported.

     

    In a statement from Gul’s office, the two leaders stressed the importance of "solidarity and cooperation" between their nations for regional stability.

     

    ‘TWO STATES, ONE NATION’

    Turkey closed the border in a show of support to Azerbaijan after 20 percent of its territory was invaded by Armenia in the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region.

     

    Azerbaijan Defense Minister Col. Gen. Safar Abiyev paid a visit to Turkey on Friday. He met with Turkish army chief Gen. Ilker Basbug and Parliament Speaker Koksal Toptan, and is scheduled to hold talks with Erdogan later in the day.

     

    Zakir Hasimov, Azerbaijan's ambassador in Ankara, said Thursday that Turkey and Azerbaijan share relations based on the idea of "two states and one nation."

     

    "As an independent state, Turkey has the right to establish bilateral relations with any country it wishes. However, Turkey-Armenia relations should be parallel to the developments taking place in Upper Karabakh. … President Abdullah Gul and Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan made assurances to us in this direction," Hasimov was quoted as saying by the Anatolian Agency.

     

    Turkey also said the protocol was not signed but initialed. According to Turkish law, the protocol must be ratified by Parliament.

     

    "We will not take any steps that will hurt our (Azeri) brothers. There is nothing that is signed but an initialed protocol," Erdogan told reporters late Thursday.

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